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Working in the kitchen at a mid-priced restaurant in Cambridge, Mass., Jose Lucas managed to cover all the expenses of his wife and three kids in his native Brazil. But that changed when the real appreciated 60 percent against the US dollar in the past three years.
“I had to get more hours at work so I could send more money,” says Mr. Lucas. “I used to work 40 hours a week. Now, I work 56.” So far, the extra hours have made up the difference.
Across the US, the falling dollar value has sent ripples through immigrant communities that send money to family overseas. As some currencies for developing countries have risen substantially against the dollar, many immigrant workers are increasing their workweek by up to 20 hours or taking second jobs. If the dollar’s slide continues, the US may become less attractive to migrant workers, analysts say.
Although it’s too early to tell whether this will cause a major shift in immigration, a number of migrants in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia are already choosing Spain over the US.
The monthly or weekly payouts provide healthcare, schooling, food, and other items for the migrants’ families back home. “Remittances are the best kind of foreign aid we’ve got,” says Dan Griswold, a trade and immigration expert at the Cato Institute, a nonprofit public-policy research foundation in Washington. “It goes family to family with minimal cut by middlemen.”
Yet the experiences of two other migrants living in Massachusetts illustrate the recent challenges. As a certified nursing aid working near Quincy, Arlene Schwartz has been paying for her sister’s schooling, including college, back in the Philippines. However, the Filipino peso has appreciated nearly 27 percent against the US dollar in the past three years. Her native country has also seen marked inflation.
In all, about 150 million migrant workers worldwide labor outside their countries of origin and send money home. Last year saw an estimated $240 billion in remittances — a record — reach the developing world, with roughly $90 billion from the US alone. These estimates are probably much smaller than the actual value of remittances, since many immigrants are illegal or send money through unofficial channels.
While these families are not likely to go hungry, they will probably simplify their diets to subsist on a bare minimum, Dr. Ratha says. They’re also likely to cut back on clothing purchases and limit any medical treatment to emergency situations.
As migrants look to cut costs, some businesses that cater to immigrant needs are starting to feel the pinch. Take Alberto Gomes’s Superior Supermarket, a small Portuguese and Brazilian grocery store in Cambridge. In years past, Mr. Gomes, who is originally from Portugal, attracted a number of area Brazilians by stocking his shelves with goods from Brazil and Portugal. But when the dollar began to fall, the cost of goods soared, and Gomes had to raise prices.
“I do about half of the business [I used to],” he says. Currently, his operation is in the red. “I take it day by day and see how America’s going to do,” he says.
For some countries, however, mainly Mexico, the exchange rate remains favorable, and the economic incentives for working in the US continue. Yet in any case, it can be difficult to draw hard and fast conclusions about remittance flows, given the undocumented status of many people in the migrant workforce, says Simon Reich, director of the Ford Institute for Human Security at the University of Pittsburgh.
[Editor’s Note: See the AR News story “U.S. Money Helps, Hurts Mexicans” for a fuller picture of how remittance money is spent.]
(Posted on January 29, 2008)
The “Mexican-American” marcher a few years ago, I believe, put it best:
*We are here, and we are here to stay”.
I’m sorry - were you naieve enough to believe that, once things “took a turn for the worst, economically speaking”, they’d just pack up and go?
This is the Reconquista people - the Hispanics aren’t leaving anytime soon!
Posted by Obscuratus at 6:14 PM on January 29
Why in the world should they leave?! If Obama, Hillary or McCain wins the presidency, the entitlements will flow like water over a dam. All three of these clowns are socialists and have publicly said they are for amnesty, social security benefits for illegals as well as free medical care.
We’re in for it — big time.
Posted by Proactive at 7:22 PM on January 29
I knew there would be some good news concerning the falling dollar. I do not feel sorry for these “victims”.
Posted by Lars at 8:26 PM on January 29
“While these families are not likely to go hungry”
I should say not! Their fat little children will clogging our schools for years. Dying of starvation is NOT a danger these people face. They have the fattest children I have ever seen.
Posted by at 9:05 PM on January 29
I hope the “pinch” causes you to expedite your Illegal backside back home, wherever that might be.
Posted by Superman at 9:19 PM on January 29
There is NO way Mexicans will return to Mexico. They hate Mexicans.
It would be like Africans here returning to Africa due to all the white racism they have to suffer while in the US. They prefer the “racism” they imagine over having to live with their own back in Africa.
Nobody hates blacks and mexicans more than blacks and mexicans.
Posted by LOGIC at 10:49 PM on January 29
Leave, they will hang on by the fingernails, despite the fact that they claim they get so abused here. What a joke. All of the anti’Americans will hang on by their fingernails, before leaving this nation. I’m still waiting for the movie stars to leave. Anyone remember that silliness?
Posted by Bobby at 11:15 PM on January 29
I worry that the falling dollar will reduce us to third world status and that the aliens will stay or go as they see fit because they’ll be no better or worse off for staying but we will see a complete change in the American lifestyle and that will really wake up the sonomulent middle class of all colors.
Posted by pat at 3:47 AM on January 30
“it’s too early to tell whether this will cause a major shift in immigration, a number of migrants in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia are already choosing Spain over the US.”
They will simply invade another part of the white world, that’s all. If we don’t them, Europe will.
Posted by at 4:50 AM on January 30
But of course, according to free-market economics, the whole point of a devaluing dollar is to Americans poorer - at least relative to the ‘succesful exporting nations’ - and thus afford a means of choking off import demand, without resorting to tarrifs, by hitting Americans in the pocket.
Remmittances sent abroad by immigrants massively contribute to the traded deficit, so thus by their own success in colonizing American jobs, the immigrants are shooting themselves in the foot!!
The next time a WSJ or Economist editorial praises immigrants for ‘enriching’ America, bear this in mind.
Posted by Kenelm Digby at 7:15 AM on January 30
I’m sure the illegals will stay a little longer - at least until the rebates are issued. Just heard on Fox&Friends; that illegals who pay taxes will be eligible for these checks! It’s passed the House and will now go to the Senate. Just wait until Pelosi, Kennedy, Obama, Clinton get hold of it. Payday! By the way, do those Senators who are running for President still get paid when they Aren’t doing their jobs???
Posted by June at 9:15 AM on January 30
The Mexicans claim they have some ancestral right to the Southwest (or all) of the US.
What possible historical justification could these Brazilians, Carribean Islanders, and other Central and South Americans possibly have for being in our territory?
Posted by Citizen at 11:15 AM on January 30
The only victims of the falling dollar…are US the working men and women of this country…most of us, by the way…ARE WHITE!!
Posted by lydia at 12:51 PM on January 30
“Their fat little children will clogging our schools for years. Dying of starvation is NOT a danger these people face. They have the fattest children I have ever seen. “
Posted by at 9:05
— — — — — — — — — — — — — —
That’s a good point you’ve made. I’ve noticed the same thing myself. Some of their kids are as round as beach balls! Their mothers generally are too.
It’s bad enough for adults, but obesity like that among children is extremely unhealthy. I suppose their parents think it’s cute. Well, it’s not cute, and the US taxpapyers not only foot their foodstamps, school lunches, etc, but will be paying their hefty medical expenses in future years.
Posted by voter at 1:12 PM on January 30
“they will hang on by the fingernails before leaving this nation, despite the fact that they claim they get so abused here.”
Posted by Bobby
I suspect Bobby is absolutely right about this. No matter how bad things get here, conditions certainly won’t be any better back home.
And if they do leave, as another poster said, they will simply move on to another white country. There are plenty of others to go to. After all, while the dollar is falling, the Euro has been rising. ¡No problema!
Posted by ghw at 1:13 PM on January 30
At least white Americans will know where to immigrate to in the future. At the rate things are going, Mexico and South America will eventually be rid of their criminal and parasitic citizens leaving peace and prosperity to flourish in those countries.
Our politicians here in the U.S. haven’t a clue what that’s all about.
Posted by Proactive at 1:25 PM on January 30
These people aren’t going nowhere, unemployed in America is better then being unemployed in their own countries. Plus, like blacks, they have a white-bogeyman to blame all their problems on.
Posted by Proudinfidel at 3:03 PM on January 30
They aren’t going anywhere. They know that Whitey will foot the bill for all their needs and wants, as usual. Mexicans sure won’t do it, will they? Oh, and don’t forget the churches who will have fund raising drives for these leeches. God help WHITE America. Can you just see the laughter from around the world if Obama is elected President? Multicult insanity at work. Do you think anyone will honestly respect him as a leader of the free world? I won’t.
Posted by at 9:09 PM on January 30
“They(mexicans) have the fattest children I have ever seen. “
You have that right. Their kids are fatter by far then any american kids and americans are supposed to be the fattest in the world!!!!
Posted by at 9:55 PM on January 30
“At the rate things are going, Mexico and South America will eventually be rid of their criminal and parasitic citizens leaving peace and prosperity to flourish in those countries. Our politicians here in the U.S. haven’t a clue what that’s all about. “
Posted by Proactive
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I think I’ve said it here before, but it’s time to repeat. A Mexican-American acquaintance that I once knew, some thirty or more years ago, before this illegal invasion was underway, once remarked to me that if ever the border was opened, “there would be a mass stampede of humanity all the way from Tierra del Fuego”, and that eventually they would all be here, reproducing the same conditions they had left behind.
He said it as a wise-crack, and it thought he was joking. He’s dead now; and it turns out it was no joke, it was a warning.
Posted by browser at 2:59 PM on January 31